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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island’

Deno's Wonder Wheel

Go up it’s Great. Easter Sunday at the Wonder Wheel. April 5, 2015. Photo © Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

“Go up, it’s Great!” is the joyful slogan of the Wonder Wheel painted on its vintage ticket booths. On the evening of May 8th, you could say “Go up, it’s Poetry!” Deno’s Wonder Wheel will be open special hours – 7pm-10pm – for Poem-a-Rama, a special event featuring an array of poets reciting poetry to guests as they go up in the cars, plus readings on the ground and book-inspired music by Soozie Hwang & the Relastics.

The first-ever literary soiree in the landmark ride’s 95-year history is a benefit for Parachute Literary Arts’ poetry workshops and community poetry libraries in Coney Island. Advance tickets are $20 and include general admission to the event and a ride with a poet on the Wonder Wheel.

“Coney Island has been a source of inspiration for centuries for artists and poets including Whitman and E.E. Cummings and now contemporary poets,” says Parachute’s founder and artistic director Amanda Deutch. “At the same time I am interested in site specific work.” Past events produced by Parachute have featured poets reading in front of the New York Aquarium’s jellyfish tanks and over the mic at the Eldorado Bumper car ticketbooth on Surf Avenue.

Poets reading on the ground at Poem-a-Rama include Patricia Spears Jones, Lynn Melnick and teen poets from Parachute Literary Arts’ writing workshops. Poets with whom you can ride the Wheel are Parachute Festival alum Matthea Harvey and Edwin Torres, as well as Penny Arcade, Amber Atiya, Paul Blackburn, Kurt Boone, Michael Broder, Brenda Coultas, Ian Dreiblatt, Jen Fitzgerald, Tyehimba Jess, Brenda Iijima, Lucy Ives, Amy King, Wanda Phipps and “a wandering Walt Whitman.”

Deutch’s hope for Poem-a-Rama is for poets and passengers to enjoy a truly unique experience “because of all of it–the ride, the ocean breeze, the intimate nature of such a small reading– the poetry will sink in and reverberate for days to come.”

Advance tickets for Poem-a-Rama are available online for $20 via Parachute Literary Arts. Tickets will be $25 online on May 8th, the day of the event, and at the door. Entrance to the event will be at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park‘s West 12th Street gate at 3059 West 12th between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk.

Related posts on ATZ…

October 13, 2013: Photo of the Day: Swinging on the Wonder Wheel

September 29, 2011: Coney Island Poem from the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project

September 7, 2011: Photography: Floating Above the Coney Island Boardwalk

September 27, 2009: Coney Island 1969 by Edwin Torres: Fave Poem from Parachute Festival

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Coney Island air show

During the 1980s and 90s, Astroland sponsored air shows featuring Air Force, Navy and Army flyers and parachute teams. The last air show in Coney Island was in 2000.

City officials have just signed off on an air show that will bring teams of flyers and parachutists to Coney Island this summer, according to a report by Jeanine Ramirez of NY1. The show will cost more than $500,000, but sponsors have agreed to cover all expenses. The event is scheduled for August 29 and 30.

“So much fun! I’m so happy they’re bringing it back! So exciting!” Tina Georgoulakos of Paul’s Daughter told ATZ. Among the iconic photos on display in her boardwalk eatery is one of a parachutist landing on the beach in front of her family’s business, then called Gregory & Paul’s. Friends who’ve attended Coney Island’s famed air shows of the past –the last one was in 2000– say the jumpers landed with unerring precision on targets set out on the beach.

New York City Air Show

The New York City Air Show in Coney Island has been on the Coney Rumor Mill’s radar since last summer and on fan websites since early this year. Fence Check says the venue is MCU Park and lists the following participants: Air Boss & Consulting International, B-25 Panchito, Horsemen Flight Team, USAF F-22A Raptor Demo, USAF Heritage Flight, USMC AV-8 Harrier Demo, USN F/A-18 Hornet East Demo – VFA-106, USN Leap Frogs, and Mike Wiskus & the Lucas Oil Pitts. The new air show has a logo, a website under construction and a Facebook page. And they are already planning ahead for next year with “the New York City Air Show in Coney Island” on the Blue Angels schedule for August 20-21, 2016.

Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Astroland sponsored not only the USAF Thunderbirds but also the US Army’s Golden Knights parachute team as well as the Navy’s Blue Angels in 2000. The walls of Astroland’s office were emblazoned with dramatic news photos of these annual events. The flamboyant Coney Island press agent Milton Berger was the “air show chairman” and a master at estimating attendance. “For the first day of a three-day air show, he reported a crowd of only 750,000, but only to leave room for much bigger crowds that he would report for the next two days,” his obit says.

US Navy Leap Frogs

The U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team, the Leap Frogs, will be part of the New York City Air Show. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Torrey W. Lee

How many people are projected to attend this year’s air show? In 2010, a Coney Island Air Show featuring the Thunderbirds was planned but could not get all of the necessary permits–a complicated situation by all accounts– and was cancelled. The director of that show told ATZ that “a conservative estimate would be 500,000 per day.” The air show will also be visible for blocks beyond the amusement district. According to the USAF Thunderbirds fact sheet, the largest crowd in USAF Thunderbirds history –2.25 million– was on July 4, 1987 at their Coney Island air show.

Fourth of July air shows and fireworks have been a Coney tradition since the 1940s. In 1957, New York City’s delegation to the House of Representatives lobbied the Secretary of Defense for a national air show in Coney Island that would demonstrate America’s “airpower for peace.” The May event grew into Armed Forces Week with the sponsorship of the US Air Force Recruiting Services, the City of New York and the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce.

USAF Thunderbirds at Coney Island

The largest crowd in USAF Thunderbirds history was on July 4, 1987 at Coney Island where 2.25 million people watched as the Thunderbirds performed. Photo via USAF Thunderbirds

Related posts on ATZ…

April 10, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Power Surge and Enterprise-Style Ride Set for Comeback

March 3, 2015: Coney Island 2015: The Whip Returns with a NASCAR Twist

January 31, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Wahlburgers Signage Goes Up at Thor’s Retail Building

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

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This 16-minute documentary by Mike Edwards and newly posted on YouTube was made in 1977 to celebrate the Cyclone’s 50th anniversary. It’s fantastic to see the roller coaster in action in the ’70s. The opening sequence features Silvio Pinto, whose family bought and began operating the roller coaster in 1959 before selling it to the City a decade later. The film also stars famed riders Mike Boodley, who rode the Cyclone for 1001 consecutive rides, and Richard Rodriguez, who holds the Guinness World Record for riding the coaster continuously for four days. At the time the film was made, Edwards was a college student in Staten Island. His film was nominated for his school’s “Oscars” and toured NYC Parks with the Parks Foundation’s Filmobile.

As a boy born and raised on three of the 5 boroughs of NYC from 1951 to 1979, a summertime trip to Coney Island was always in the mix. I remember the day while confined to Steeplechase Park, (the grandest kiddie amusement park ever!), when my gaze became transfixed on the world class wooden roller coasters that thundered and squealed off in the distance. I couldn’t wait for the day when I was old enough and big enough to ride these coasters. I measured myself by first getting comfortable riding the Thunderbolt and then the Tornado roller coasters before I felt ready for the Cyclone.

Fast forward to 1977 when I chose the Cyclone to be the subject of a documentary film exercise while attending the very fine Richmond College, an experimental humanities school in the CUNY system, where I was to receive a BA in Cinema Studies. With either a wind-up Bolex 16 or a Bell & Howell Filmo 16mm camera and a 100’ spool of reversal film, I went to visit my subject while under a blanket of snow. Like coming upon a hibernating beast, I kept my distance shooting wide shots without a footprint. Aided by the calm of this early Sunday morning, I could feel a life-force at rest, knowing what was expected of it and what was to unfold in the early spring months. Right there on Surf Avenue, I knew my documentary project would be to explore and maybe expose that this mechanical, inanimate object is actually a being with a distinct personality.

Related posts on ATZ…

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

March 10, 2011: Video: Seasons of the Cyclone Roller Coaster by Charles Denson

January 5, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island

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candy apples

First candy apples of the season at Deno’s Sweet Shoppe, Coney Island. April 5, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

At the Sweet Shoppe in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park on Easter Sunday. Take your pick- plain, or rolled in coconut or nuts. Your first candy apple of the season is always the most delicious!

Related posts on ATZ...

February 18, 2015: Photo of the Day: Hello Kitty and Honey Bear at Nathan’s Famous

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

June 9, 2011: Photo of the Day: Mango Vendor in Coney Island

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Easter Bunny Best on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Easter Sunday Best at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Happy Easter and Happy Passover from Coney Island! While Palm Sunday is Coney Island’s season opener, it’s Easter that draws the crowds. If the weather is favorable, as we expect this Sunday–“Mostly sunny and breezy. Highs in the upper 50s,” according to the National Weather Service–the day can be as busy for the amusement ride and game operators as the Fourth of July.

In 2010, Easter was on April 4th and temps were in the 70s when we snapped these photos of New Yorkers in their Sunday best. The Boardwalk was a People’s Parade on Easter Sunday. Lines were long at ticket booths and rides were jam packed from noon till nearly midnight!

Easter Sunday, Coney Island

Easter Toddler at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

While the kids are off from New York City schools through April 12, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park are open daily for Spring Break, weather permitting. The parks open at 12 noon. Coney Island’s roller coasters–the Cyclone and the Thunderbolt– will be up and running this weekend. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park has four new family rides, including a Mangels’ Whip inspired Speedway and the retro Scrambler.

Keep an eye out for “Easter fresh” outfits, including bunny headgear!

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

East in Coney Island

Easter at Steve’s Grill House on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Bunny Baby in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Bunny Baby in Coney Island. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Subway Cafe Coney Island

New Subway Cafe on Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Photo by Stan Fox AmusingtheZillion.com

The newest in a slew of chains and franchisees betting on the new, year-round Coney Island is having its grand opening on Wednesday morning. Here’s a first look inside the Subway Cafe, which has long been under construction but until today was hidden behind a steel gate. Located on Surf Avenue across the street from Luna Park, the Subway spin-off features a “Tuscany-style interior” with sofas and photos of old New York. The restaurant’s hours on opening day will be 7:00 am til 10:00 pm.

First introduced as a restaurant concept in 2008, the Subway Cafe is part sandwich shop, part coffee bar. Its decor and layout aim for a “coffeehouse ambiance” and is a little larger than an average Subway. The north side of Surf Avenue already has a Subway, located down the street in Stillwell Terminal, but it does not sell coffee. In addition to Subway sandwiches, the new cafe’s expanded menu includes baked goods, dessert items and coffee offerings.

Unlike Manhattan, where Mom & Pops are being pushed out to make way for chains or upscale businesses, the new chains and franchises in Coney are moving into former furniture stores or long vacant spaces. The furniture shops on the north side of Surf have long been in violation of the C-7 amusement zoning and are gradually being replaced by restaurants and bars. As ATZ noted in 2013, when we first posted the scoop on Subway Cafe, rides and amusement businesses aren’t about to make a comeback on the north side due to the skyrocketing rents since the Coney Island Rezoning of 2009.

Subway Cafe Coney Island

New Subway Cafe on Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Photo © Stan Fox via AmusingtheZillion.com

“I’m getting more inquiries than ever before,” said broker Joe Vitacco, who would like to bring a seafood and steak restaurant to the neighborhood. “It means that people are thinking about it. But I call half the people I talk to tourists.” Vitacco signed the lease in September 2013 with the restaurant chain for the 1,700 square foot cafe at 1019 Surf Avenue across the street from Luna Park.

Just how pricey is Coney Island’s north side of Surf? The building at 1019-1039 Surf was purchased for $3.1 million by 1019 Surf Ave Acquisition LLC in March 2013 for $3.1 million, according to Property Shark. Vitacco says the buyer was Russian multi-millionaire Yakov Yakubov.

During the hearings leading up to the Coney Island Rezoning of July 2009, a number of individuals and organizations including the Pratt Center for Community Development recommended adopting a formula business restriction policy within Coney East to prevent national retailers and fast food restaurants from locating there. Of course that didn’t happen because the zoning was written to attract these very businesses to Coney Island, as we noted in “Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?” (December 19, 2012).

Subway Cafe Coney Island

New Subway Cafe on Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Photo © Stan Fox via AmusingtheZillion.com

Related posts on ATZ…

February 13, 2015: Coney Island 2015: IHOP Franchisee Signs Lease for 5,400-Square-Foot Surf Ave Store

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

September 11, 2013: Subway Cafe to Replace Furniture Store on Coney Island’s Surf Ave

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

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We did not plan to post any more photos of snow. Winter’s done. But yesterday our friend Dutchmazz went for a walk in Coney on the first day of spring and brought back lovely, lovely photos and this atmospheric video. The most exquisite snow is spring snow.

Related posts on ATZ…

February 21, 2015: Video of the Day: The Astotower as Aeolian Harp

February 8, 2015: Video & Photos of the Day: Riding Coney Island’s Abandoned Giant Slide (1973)

December 16, 2013: Video of the Day: Beyoncé’s “XO” Love Letter from Coney Island

August 27, 2012: Video of the Day: Raw Footage of 1960s Coney Island

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